Several things about this cover gave me the giggles. The first is the expression on her face.
She looks DISGUSTED with us. All of us. This is the face of a woman who just watched someone burn a book and then eat the ashes on a gluten-only cracker covered in spray-can cheese. She knows you’re not standing up every hour and doing squats at your desk, and it revolts her. She sees you — your plain, fraying white underwear, your uncontoured face, your subscription to Seventeen that randomly started arriving one day and yet nobody believes you that you didn’t pay for it — and deems you wanting. So, as much as I understand people may respond to the spare, artsy effect of her eyes boring through you like a bitter drill, I personally do not want to read an article about this person who so clearly just saw me put potato chips on my sandwiches and LOATHES my excess.
But the thing is, you actually have to read the article. Because it is A Thing That Has Happened. It’s a string of self-conscious e-mails between Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer — ostensibly because they are old friends who’d fallen out of touch, but also because both have new projects to promote — that are so heavily considered and constructed, you imagine they tried every pose in the Typing Kama Sutra to impregnate them with Meaning. And… I mean, behold one of his, whipsawing between pretension and Oh Wait I Have A Job To Do:
“It’s almost 6:00 in the morning. The boys are still asleep. The guinea pigs are stirring, but that might be a residue of a nightmare. People often refer to aloneness or writer’s block as the two great challenges of being a novelist. In fact, the hardest part is having to care for guinea pigs.
Am I correct that A Tale of Love and Darkness is the first project that was entirely your own conception?
There is also a LONG lead-in about when garbage day is on his street, which is allegedly a feeder into a question about ritual, but which seems more like an exercise in vanity. And she asks him almost nothing, which is perhaps fair given that technically he is the interviewer here, but still. Most of her stuff is waxing poetic and then being like, “Oops, gotta go,” for some domestic reason. However, the most compelling reason to wade through it all is to appreciate the genius of The Millions’ parody that reimagines the exchange as between Natalie Portman and Cormac McCarthy. TREAT. YO. SELF.